GamerGate is a controversy within the gaming community that has ramped up over the last few months, and now major video game organisations and media outlets are speaking out against it.
You can read more about the intricacies of GamerGate over at Gawker, but here’s a brief rundown:
Some video game fans say that journalists and game developers are too close, and are calling into question the ethics of video game journalists. But it quickly devolved into harassment of women in the industry. Supporters of the movement have rallied behind the “GamerGate” hashtag on Twitter and elsewhere.
The hashtag is being blamed for various threats against women. Anita Sarkeesian, who recently canceled an appearance at Utah State University after death threats, says at least one of the many threats against her and feminists at the university claimed affiliation with GamerGate.
It has created such a firestorm that Intel pulled advertising from gaming site Gamasutra over an opinion piece about sexism in the gaming industry. Mercedes-Benz pulled (and then reinstated) advertising on Gawker, according to The Washington Post.
GamerGate even made the front page of The New York Times.
Until now, major game organisations and media outlets have stayed rather silent about their opinions on the issue. And, as Andy Baio points out, GamerGate supporters’ “best hope is that the silent are secretly on their side, since nobody else creating stuff seems to be.”
But in the past few weeks, several have spoken out against the hashtag.
The overarching theme is that these organisations haven’t spoken up until now because they didn’t want to fuel the fire of a losing war. But, as Chris Grant at Polygon writes, “That ends today.”
He goes on to say that there “has to be a complete rejection of the tools of harassment and fear — we can’t even begin to talk about the interesting stuff while people are literally scared for their lives.”
Game Informer says, “We implore all involved to let ‘GamerGate’ go, because GamerGate is not an issue.”
Giant Bomb’s Jeff Gertsman issued a letter from the editor last week condemning GamerGate. He writes, “I shouldn’t need to say ‘hey, don’t issue death threats’ for people to understand that issuing death threats is a crappy thing to do, but that’s where we’re at.”
The industry’s top trade group, the Entertainment Software Association, issued a statement to The Washington Post, saying, “Threats of violence and harassment are wrong. They have to stop. There is no place in the video game community — or our society — for personal attacks and threats.”
Even Simon Parkin at The New Yorker called it a “cringe-inducing Twitter hashtag.”
“Those who stand against honest debate and dialogue may think that they are protecting a beloved pastime, but their actions compromise its vibrant future,” Parkin writes.
TechCrunch’s John Biggs spoke out against GamerGate on Monday, calling its supporters “trolls.” “GamerGate isn’t about gaming,” he writes. “It’s an embarrassment to gamers and if it truly represented all gamers I would pull the iPads out of my kids’ hands this instant.”
The idea of GamerGate supporters being “trolls” who just want a rise out of people may be supported by a chart that Baio tweeted. It shows that most people who tweet about GamerGate only recently created their Twitter accounts.
As some suggest, they didn’t need Twitter until they were so moved by the GamerGate controversy to create an account. But it’s impossible to know for sure.
Kotaku’s Stephen Totilo writes that “we are all tired of GamerGate,” including some GamerGaters themselves.
Still, there’s more that needs to be said, according to Brianna Wu, one of the women in the game industry who has been harassed. She writes in The Washington Post that more people, especially men in the industry, need to speak up.
“This angry horde has been allowed to wage its misogynistic war without penalty for too long,” she writes.
“It’s time for the video game industry to stop them.”
Either way, it seems that all these organisations are in agreement: The GamerGate hashtag and “movement” needs to stop. And hopefully, by some players in the industry starting to speak out, more will follow suit, and the GamerGate firestorm, and the harassment, can finally come to an end.